The light is fading, in so many ways. Constant disturbances, mainly self-induced, have slowed the progress of whatever it is it I think I’m doing. I need time and quiet which are two rare commodities in 21st century Britain. The college course is in full swing with the inevitable panic on the part of some of the participants. They should trust my judgement in selecting them. I know exactly what I’m doing when it comes to teaching. Pity the same cannot be said of my own artwork. However, the teaching of any creative practice invariably challenges the individuals concerned to the extent that they question not only their reason for putting themselves through such rigorous training but their own validity as artists and individuals. This is not helped by the examining body insistence for students to produce endless projects that skim the surface of subjects while not allowing them the time to investigate issues or concepts in any depth. Tra la la, it’s the same the world over. Mutter, mutter.
I’m having problems with the face again. Oh, quelle surprise! Sam’s comment, “she looks like a cross between Hermione Granger and a troll”. I must stop asking his opinion. I’m tempted to cut a hole in the canvas and allowing passing women to stick their head through it and photograph the one that fits. May solve a problem.
I was having the same issue with the hands until I convinced Sam to model and then had the job of getting a 22 year old rugby player’s hands to look like a woman’s. No point in doing mine, the age spots alone would “frighten the horses”. I showed them to Claire, (intern at college) and said they were Sam’s hands and her response was, “yep, they look like a blokes”.
She’s going darker, it’s inevitable and I’m resigned to it now. Any attempt on my part to lighten my palette is futile. I no longer see the light without the dark following swiftly on its heels. I live in the northern hemisphere under moody grey skies near a stony beach washed by silted brown water. What do i expect?
Ok, so I have repainted the face endlessly and within an inch of its life, but she’s still alive. What I’ve discovered is this, I don’t like pretty. The dreaded word “twee” keeps coming into my head. I like smirking, sarcastic, knowing, enigmatic, anonymous, delightful and even beautiful, but not twee. I think it’s an issue with the great gender divide in the art world. Women artists paint with colour, concern themselves with the domestic, often work from home and prefer the decorative over the dynamic or the political as they are disenfranchised from the major decisions in society. Hmm, tell that to a few women artists I know and they would rip your head off whilst pointing you in the direction of their own work, (possibly with a gun in your back). Like all stereotypical aspersions there is an element of truth in it.
A trip to the Guggenheim gallery in Venice told me more about Peggy’s personal aesthetics than it did about the work. Peggy liked men and wanted to be liked back by them. Possibly not as much as she liked her dogs but women were a long way down her list of “who I would go for a pint with”. Way too domestic and decorative for her.
Still, she did me a favour. I literally dragged my travelling companions to the gallery as at the time I was totally obsessed with abstraction and especially the New York School. The gallery was at the top of my list of “things to visit in Venice”. They came out saying “ that was interesting”, whereas I ran out in a massive sulk having to rethink everything I had been hanging onto for years. What I couldn’t get over was the fact that she lived in Venice, (which has to be in the top most beautiful cities in the world), and yet collected work that was the antithesis of her surroundings, sterile, masculine, emotionally cold, limited and trite. Maybe that was the point, but frankly I couldn’t care less. I won’t be going back.
“Well that was bollocks”, Sam’s comment as we left.